Paying bills while in med school

Hi everyone. I’ve been lurking here on occasion and from my searches, it seems my question is somewhat unique. I’m 36 yrs. old and just started college. I’m considering persuing a degree in medicine (neurology). I live alone, my only child almost an adult so I have no one to worry about supporting except myself. From what I understand, if I’m able to get into med. school after I complete my 4 yrs. of college, I will have to quit working full-time and devote all my time to school. I have no money to speak of so I don’t see how that’s possible unless I’m living on student loans. Is this normally how it’s done? Isn’t that how kids (with no money) much younger than us survive while in medical school?

Yep. Unless you have someone else contributing a substantial portion of your income or have a bunch of savings, we live on loans. Most medical schools provide a “cost of attendance” or a budget (they may actually be required to provide that info). You can see examples for one school at ialaid/costofattendance. The amount you are allowed to borrow is limited by both the cost of attendance for your school and whatever the federal loan limit currently is (assuming the school is eligible for federal loans). Usually, the cost of attendance exceeds the federal loan limits and people either cut back on their budget or borrow the extra from a private lender (requiring good credit).

There is lots of people in my class who borrow for the tuition and for the living expenses. And as crazy as it sounds, there are also few people who work while in med school; it’s definitely not enough to pay all the bills, but for example for a family where both are out-of-state medical students it’s the only only way to tie the ends; I know it sounds crazy and scary, but many people were there before us, and they somehow survived and paid their loans off, so I guess it’s doable.


Thanks, guys! Now it’s just a matter of calculating the costs of living and school once (if) I start med school and then the time it will take to pay it all off.

Doctors are pretty employable and recession-proof. I wouldn’t spend a TON of time worrying about paying off the loans. Currently I am paying off my $150K loan at $600+ per month and will continue to pay (at the current rate) until long after I’m retired. At some point once I’ve gotten my feet under me I will probably accelerate my payback, but since I have a student loan at about 3% interest, it’s hard to feel terribly motivated to do that right now.

Of course you have to worry about money, that’s normal. But I wouldn’t advise making loan payoff worries the make-or-break decision point for going into medicine. Doctors are pretty good loan risks.


It’s been a few years but I’m back. Going to school half-time, it has taken 8 years to get my bachelor’s degree. As I approach my graduation, that old pipe-dream of me becoming an MD comes back to mind. I’m 17 credits away and I need to do some free electives. I’ve always wanted to take chemistry and biology so I’ll do those to help me decide if this is what I want to do at the age of 44. I have a 3.6 GPA so I’m going to have to work hard for the MCAT but that doesn’t bother me. There is so much information out there now. There are medical lectures on YouTube, videos of real surgery, clinical info. on all kinds of drugs, I can’t get enough. I love to learn and the more I learn about the human body, the more amazed I am by it’s complexity and the more curious I become to learn more. I’m especially drawn to oncology or pathology. 8 years ago, it was neurology. Who knows, maybe I’ll change my mind again.

I want to thank the people in this forum. You guys are an inspiration to me. It’s encouraging to know that if I really want to do this and I put my nose to the grindstone, I can do it. Regardless of what I decide, one thing is for sure, I will spend my life learning about medicine anyway as a hobby, as it has been since I was a child. Hopefully you’ll see me more often but even if I don’t say much, there is no shortage of threads/topics!

It’s great that you’ve been able to keep pursuing your goal. Keep up the good work!